Bangladesh terror threat should remain a concern for the $26bn garment industry

  • 17th Feb 2017 09:08
The terrorist threat in Bangladesh should remain a major cause for concern for global brands and retailers that source and buy clothing in the country, according to a report published by G4S Risk Consulting
Woman working in garment factory

The Ready Made Garment (RMG) industry accounted for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s export sales in 2016 and is worth around $26 billion. G4S anticipates that operators may reassess their sourcing strategies, looking to countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and El Salvador as alternative bases to manufacture garments, should the threat worsen.

In October 2016, terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) issued a direct threat against garment buyers visiting Bangladesh. The country was already on high alert following a terrorist attack four months previously, in which 20 civilians were killed in a restaurant in central Dhaka, most of whom were foreign nationals.  The Bangladesh government committed to a vigorous counter-terrorism programme, with a countrywide crackdown targeting suspected militants.

G4S Risk Consulting managing director Charlie Burbridge said: “Our analysis shows why retailers and manufacturers who visit Bangladesh should be aware of the risk. It is important that we remain very balanced because risk and threat can be subjective. Retailers should ensure that they have carried out a full risk assessment and that tailored security provisions and thorough contingency plans are in place, to protect their staff. “

“Further attacks cannot be ruled out. The garment industry is a named target for any future attacks. While a large-scale attack is less likely due to government action, there remains a significant risk in the region of sporadic and unsophisticated attacks carried out by small groups under the guise of groups like IS.”

Increasing insecurity and the evolution of the terrorist threat has the potential to have a long-term impact on Bangladesh. Many industry investors view Bangladesh as a high-risk environment and a withdrawal of retailers would have a knock-on effect on related sectors, including hospitality, the report said. 

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